National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Portrait of a Young Woman Girolamo di Benvenuto (artist)
Sienese, 1470 - 1524
Portrait of a Young Woman, c. 1508
oil on poplar panel
painted surface: 58.1 x 43.2 cm (22 7/8 x 17 in.) overall: 60 x 45 cm (23 5/8 x 17 11/16 in.) framed: 75.6 x 59.7 x 8.3 cm (29 3/4 x 23 1/2 x 3 1/4 in.)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
On View
From the Tour: Siena in the 1400s
Object 7 of 7

Girolamo was the son of artist Benvenuto di Giovanni and his collaborator. This portrait, one of Girolamo's finest paintings, is among the few in which his individual style can be distinguished. While in his father's workshop, Girolamo—like other assistants—would have suppressed his own style in favor of the master's.

The young woman's crisp silhouette, which creates a decorative, almost abstract play against the flat background, would have been familiar to patrons of Benvenuto. But other aspects of Girolamo's picture depart from his father's style—and from long-standing Sienese tradition. Compare, for example, its warm palette and dark colors with the brighter tones of other paintings here.

Girolamo's pursuit of his father's trade was not unusual. Artists' sons were encouraged to enter their fathers' shops, as were the sons of all craftsmen. It eliminated the need to pay apprentice wages and, in many cities, saved on guild fees, as sons were assessed lower admission. Sons might be expected to display some talent—but this was not necessarily a requirement. Long training produced skilled artisans perfectly capable of meeting clients' demands. Most Renaissance painters and sculptors were from tradesmen's families of one kind or another, if not artists, then related occupations like dyers or masons. A few came from noble families, Neroccio de' Landi for instance. Fewer still were sons of peasants.

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